If you happened to miss this game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders, give yourself a pad on the back. The Habs dropped their third game of their last four while the Islanders picked up points for the sixth straight game to help them inch closer to a playoff spot. The Montreal Canadiens are now a pathetic 0-for-4 on afternoon games this season.
The Canadiens failed to hold onto their 2-1 lead, allowing the Isles to score three unanswered goals in a third period rally. Trent Hunter scored a power-play goal early in the third to tie the game at two a piece. Hunter would add a second goal with nine minutes left in the game while Miroslav Satan would add an insurance marker, and his second of the night, less than two minutes later to make it 4-2 for the Islanders.
Tomas Plekanec thought he had brought the Habs within one in the dying minutes of the game, but would be denied by the refs who blew the whistle prematurely. The Habs pulled Cristobal Huet with less than a minute left, but were unable to muster any sort of comeback this time around.
New York silenced the crowd early after they successfully completed a counter-attack play which resulted in a three-on-one only 1:44 into the game. Only Sheldon Souray was back far enough to attempt to help Huet, but it was to no avail. Satan lifted the puck up past Huet’s glove hand for his 16th of the season, and first of two on the afternoon.
The Canadiens would tie the game on a determined play by Mike Johnson to get line-mate Radek Bonk the puck. Bonk, flanked by Sergei Samsonov to create a two-on-one, faked a pass to the speedy Russian and hammered home his 9th of the season, and third goal in the last two games. Johnson picked up the only assist on the goal
Later in the period Guillaume Latendresse would finish a hard check on Islanders’ defenseman Radek Martinek. The blue-line crumpled to the ice, favoring his left leg. A stretcher was required to remove Martinek from the ice who appeared to have suffered a hip or ankle injury.
The Habs took the lead for the first and only time in this game on Mark Streit’s fifth goal of the season. The goal was also his second in three games, both of which were scored in similar fashion: through the 5-hole.
The first line consisting of Saku Koivu, Christopher Higgins, and Michael Ryder continued to struggle tonight. All three finished the game with a -2 rating. The Habs will need this line to be the dominant force it was before Higgins’ injury if it plans on keeping the playoff hopes alive.
Alexander Perezhogin and Huet both dressed for the first time since a 4-1 loss to Toronto three games ago. Huet did not play a strong game, allowing four goals on 27 shots. Expect David Aebischer to start in net for the third time in four games when the Canadiens face the Pittsburgh Penguins tomorrow in what should be a spirited rematch from last Thursday’s shoot-out loss.
There were no penalties called in the third period. Overall, the Habs failed to capitalize on any of their four power-play opportunities. Meanwhile, the penalty-kill killed off 3 of the 4 power-plays the Islanders had.
The Habs will play their next two games at home, tomorrow afternoon (2pm) against the Penguins and Tuesday evening (7:30pm) against the Carolina Hurricanes.